Simons urges Rabain to ‘come clean’

  • Seeking clarity: Cole Simons questioned quality of leadership at Ministry of Education (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Seeking clarity: Cole Simons questioned quality of leadership at Ministry of Education (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Blame for the botched sacking of Commissioner of Education Freddie Evans lies at the door of the Minister of Education, Cole Simons said yesterday.

Mr Simons, the One Bermuda Alliance spokesman for education said Diallo Rabain, the minister, should “come clean” on the affair and outline what he will do to make sure a similar problem does not arise in future.

Mr Simons said: “By now, the Minister of Education and his Cabinet colleagues should have come clean, given that the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Education would not have made this decision on her own.

“Knowing the Permanent Secretary, she would have shared her concerns and consulted with the Minister of Education before any action was taken — the action being the firing and later the suspension of the Commissioner of Education.”

Mr Simons was speaking after it was revealed last week that Mr Evans had been awarded an undisclosed settlement, thought to be a substantial six-figure sum, in settlement for his dismissal.

Mr Simons said: “Let me be clear, stains are now on the Minister of Education’s hands. He cannot run from the medley of flawed decisions, especially as Dr Evans has been offered an out-of-court settlement, another senior role in Government and a few hundred thousand dollars in out-of-court settlements to cover damages and all of his legal costs.”

Mr Simons added: “The challenges and errors recently experienced with the handling of the former Commissioner of Education speaks to the quality of leadership and the quality of governance at the senior management level in the Department of Education.

“Good people have been underutilised and other committed, well-qualified senior managers have left, which in turn is currently compromising the delivery of quality educational services in Bermuda.”

Mr Simons added that there needed to be a “reassessment” of professional development and performance appraisal in the Ministry of Education.

He said: “It is obvious, given the Government’s decision to agree to an out-of-court settlement, missteps have occurred in the ministry’s performance-appraisal process and governance protocols.

“These errors cost dearly. It cost the ministry, it cost Dr Freddie Evans, it cost the staff of the Ministry of Education and it costs Bermuda’s students.

“In light of these costs, the people of Bermuda need and deserve an explanation. The Minister of Education must come forward with a statement and admit that performance protocols were not followed and that he should summarise what remedial action that the ministry will take.”

Mr Simons added that he also wanted to know when Dr Evans’s post would be filled.

The job has been held by CedarBridge principal Kalmar Richards on an acting basis since late last year.

Mr Simons said: “This is very important as we need real leadership in regards to the delivery of the 2022 educational strategic plan and the resolution of the grave education challenges presented in the recent Cambridge assessment report.”

Dr Evans launched legal action against John Rankin, the Governor, and the Government after he was fired from his post Mr Rankin in October last year.

Lawyers for Dr Evans said the sacking came too late to be valid.

They added he could be fired by the Governor only during his probation period, which ended more than a week before Mr Rankin confirmed Dr Evans’s dismissal.

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